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Vision and goals

The vision of King County’s GIS Training Express program is to provide a framework for ongoing and relevant GIS education, to empower current and potential GIS community members as proactive spatial thinkers who can visualize their data, support better decision-making, and deliver superior public service using GIS tools.

The GIS Training Express program implements this vision with GIS training that is modular, customized, and geared toward defined categories of users within the GIS community. The curriculum is designed to be specific and detailed, yet broad enough to suit the business needs of individuals from many different agencies. A range of offerings allows users to stick to GIS basics, or to expand their knowledge with advanced or highly specialized topics.

Why GIS Training Express

Software vendors offer a vast array of GIS classes, both online and instructor-led. Software-focused training is extremely valuable but generally based on a one-size-fits-most philosophy. Some classes and courses are too technical and/or too long for the casual GIS user, some are not comprehensive enough to meet the needs of "power" GIS users, and others are just too costly for agencies.

The King County GIS Training Workgroup identified thirty-three GIS classes to be developed and offered as part of a comprehensive GIS curriculum. Depending on GIS user needs, this curriculum can replace and/or supplement GIS software vendor training and is considered integral to maintaining a high-performance GIS workforce for King County or other agencies. Many of the KCGIS classes deal with the particulars of accessing, editing, and querying King County data. Others are intended to introduce non-GIS staff to the concepts of GIS and its implementation. A few of the classes are already being taught, but most will be developed from the ground up. The result will be an economical, targeted, comprehensive GIS training curriculum that can meet the defined business needs of GIS professionals and users for King County and other agencies.

GIS user categories

Six categories of GIS users have been identified for the purpose of organizing the GIS Training Express training curriculum. Four are technical user categories that require varying levels of GIS skill and knowledge. The other two categories comprise individuals who do not personally use GIS, but deal with GIS issues as decision-makers or as technical support staff. The GIS Training Express training plan is based on placing users into one of these six categories, with an associated curriculum of recommended and optional classes.

Data user
These are GIS end-users, who query and view GIS data, and may create hardcopy output of GIS maps and associated information.

Data analyst
Analysts can be either GIS professionals or end-users. Like the Data Users, they also query and view GIS data, and likely create hardcopy output using GIS resources. However, they tend to employ more sophisticated GIS methods and create more complex and technically demanding maps than Data Users.

Data maintainer (Steward)
Maintainers are GIS professionals who are usually analysts, but are also stewards of GIS data. They deal with data development and conversion, quality assurance, and metadata.

Developer
These are GIS professionals who develop GIS scripts, programs, and applications that are used by others. They deal with software development issues, including definition of requirements, design, testing, deployment, troubleshooting, and operation.

Decision-maker
This category is for individuals who have little or no experience with GIS, but must still deal with GIS issues. They may be managers with GIS staff working for them, or project managers whose projects have a GIS component.

Database administrators / system administrators
DBAs, system administrators, and other IT support staff may or may not be familiar with GIS, yet need to deal with GIS issues as part of the IT support services they provide.

User-focused GIS education

King County’s GIS Training Express program is a user-focused, module-based approach. The GIS Training Express curriculum is designed to support the long-term educational goals of both agencies and individuals. Agencies must consider their business needs, timelines, and project requirements for the GIS training they obtain for their staff. Individuals focus on personal professional development to support long-term career goals.

The GIS Training Express curriculum is not meant to be rigid or pedantic, but rather a set of recommended guidelines. Some classes are highly recommended for the specific GIS user category, while others are listed as optional. The result is a cost-effective, flexible system that will allow GIS users, professionals, and the agencies they serve to obtain highly effective user-based business-focused GIS training.